Gold Nuggets in the Valentine Box - Kristin Christopher

Gold Nuggets in the Valentine Box

I love this photo. We just moved back from Los Angeles, and I still feel the joy in our smiles that Mother’s Day, 13 years ago. The little peanut in my arms now looks like a man, outweighs me by 25 lbs., and steals every moment he can to build with his robotics team.

You’ve probably figured out by now that the woman on the right is my mom. She’s also my original Valentine, my first mentor, and the person who taught me to love unconditionally. The single most important thing I’ve learned as a parent is to be present with my kids, and my mom taught me that by the way she was with me. I don’t want to give you the impression that she was perfect and always calm and centered. She wasn’t, in many of the same ways I am not always! She had a lot going on with three kids a total of 3.5 years apart, and she was also an artist (and still is).

I woke up today, Valentine's Day, thinking about how lucky I am she quit her elementary art teaching job to spend time doing things like this:

Flashback to 1974 … We’re sitting at the table in the 2nd bedroom of our home on the hill, my mom’s art studio, with big picture windows overlooking miles and miles of small farms and trees. I don’t really understand what we’re about to do, but I’m caught up in her enthusiasm. She has a knack for zoning right in on me, drawing me in with her sparkly brown eyes, excitement in her voice, and the waving of her hands.

I watch as she cuts a rectangular hole into one short end of the small shoebox, explaining this is where my friends will slide their valentines. So cool. We cover the box with shiny aluminum foil. We glue gold, silky soft, tasseled fringe to the edges of the box top. She teaches me how to make and carefully cut a heart from construction paper. I learn the word, doily, which she seems very excited about. (To this day, I cannot hear the word or see a doily without thinking of her and cringe-laughing!). We glue the round doily to the box top, layer the pink and red hearts, and using glue, she writes my name in her beautiful cursive handwriting. She cautions me to be careful to not make a mess, and to my surprise and delight, she lets me sprinkle the coolest, teeniest tiniest bits of shiny silver onto the glue.

Hello G-L-I-T-T-E-R.

I cannot wait for the bus to get to school on Valentine's Day. I walk into class with, by far (in my opinion), the most special, kick-ass, valentine box of my entire class. It’s bright, shiny, fringy, colorful, and totally different from the others. I am so proud. I think about how much work we put into it, and how worth it that feels.

What a gift to learn at such a young age, both the gold nugget and the hook:  my first experience realizing creativity and hard work creates something worthwhile, Originality + Individuality.

Thank you, Mom.

Flash forward to now … This awareness of Originality + Individuality motivated me to make my own jewelry and sew my clothes as a kid. Art school was one big study of originality and individuality, which Chris and I both chose to explore mostly in metal. These concepts still inspire both of us on a daily basis, and as we design, we often think about sharing that sense of originality and individuality with the people who wear our work. THIS brings us so much satisfaction!

Ah, I’m feeling nostalgic, how about you? What early memories or inklings set you on the right path? Or, if you don’t feel like you’re on your right path, what memories pop up that were pushed aside or ignored for whatever reason? A lot of people I meet mention roadblocks, like perhaps your creativity wasn’t met with encouragement and support, or someone told you that you can’t make money at art, or writing, or __________? Or maybe you chose to do the thing someone else really wanted you to do instead of what your heart wants?

One thing I know for sure is there is no time like RIGHT NOW to do the things you want to do, even if it's only on a small scale. I spent too many years stuck and lost in grief, unable to create. We alone are responsible to uncover our own gold nuggets, and it feels so good to let that individuality and creativity out. I’d love to hear your experience. I hope you’ll share it with me.

And Mom, I hope this post inspires you to set up a canvas and some watercolors today, or maybe make some valentines with alcohol inks?? I love you! Thank you, for EVERYTHING.

Happy Valentine's Day!




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1 comment

Love this! One because I am right there with you in your mom’s studio hearing her voice and feeling her enthusiasm! Two because you inspire me! Thank you for sharing!

Molly james

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